Big-time boxing returns in America after a two-week hiatus and Showtime is showcasing the deep waters of the 122-pound division. Angelo Leo defends his newly won vacated strap against Stephen Fulton in a fight that got snake-bitten by Covid-19. The main event is a great matchup but let’s not lose focus on the co-feature pitting undefeated boxers Raeese Aleem and Vic Pasillas in what should be a can’t miss affair. In the opener Rolando Romero tries to bounce back from a poor performance facing Justin Pauldo.

Here’s hoping a third time’s the charm in the main event between Angelo Leo and Stephen Fulton this Saturday night. Covid-19 reared its ugly head not once but twice, first back in August Stephen Fulton got it then as recently as December the bout was cancelled due to Angelo Leo contracting the virus. Leo came in contact sparring Nonito Donaire who tested positive leading to his fight being postponed as well. Both fighters seem eager to finally meet in the middle of the ring and the style should be very interesting.

Leo looked very impressive in his last outing fighting Tramaine Williams as a replacement for Fulton. Like many boxers, Leo took a little while to warm up but once he got his engine running began to take Tramaine apart. His body punching and head movement on the inside wore Williams down. It was defiantly a breakout performance especially adjusting late to a southpaw and haven beaten only Cesar Juarez as a recognizable veteran name on his resume.

Stephen Fulton is skillful boxer out of Philadelphia having worked his way up on the tried and true ShoBox platform. Fulton out of the two guys is the more seasoned pro having faced and defeated Joshua Grier Jr., Arnold Khegai, and Adam Lopez. It will have been just shy of a year since Fulton last fought so ring rust could play a minor factor in the early goings. Part of the reason this is such an intriguing matchup is the strategy that both fighters will implement. Fulton moves well on the outside as the ‘boxer’ while Leo will attempt to close the gap and fire shots once inside.

Fulton has a solid jab that sometimes he abandons as the rounds go on. Stephen loves to jab or land hard left hooks on his opponent then proceeds to dip out of danger. At times he may jump out of range to the point he’s too far away to land a punch. Fulton is comfortable on the ropes but can’t get stay there for long spurts as was the case against Lopez and Khegai in spots. His legs and cover-up guard when in close, allows him to defend at a good but not great level.

Leo loves to dig shots to the body and even though he will be the aggressor, he’s not out of control. He will have to avoid starting slow and overall increase his punch rate to keep pace with Fulton’s work rate. As much as possible cornering Fulton and trapping him on or near the ropes will be the main ingredient to get his hand raised on Saturday. His upper body and head movement will be even more important as it was with Williams. It seems both men are willing to exchange and once the action heats up whomever lands the shorter punch is another key to victory or at least a knockdown.

This podcaster believes Fulton will score points early to take the lead but a few rounds in look for Leo to get close enough to do damage. Any chance Leo gets he’ll need to make it rough and tumble in the trenches. Both fighters will land their fair share but the ability to stick or pot shot and move lends itself to siding with Fulton.

My Official Prediction is Stephen Fulton by Split-Decision.

As far as the co-feature goes this has fireworks and thudding shots written all over it. After a long layoff due to out of the ring issues involving his former promoter, it would appear Vic Pasillas has turned the corner of his professional career. Two and half years out of the ring, Passilas resumed his career about 3 years ago. Two bouts in 2018, another two in 2019, and a show-pleasing performance back in September placed him in the picture at 122. Vic’s one-sided victory over an unbeaten prospect in Ranfis Encarnacion opened many of the hardcore’s eyes with his ability to throw rapid-fire combinations. Vic can switch from offense to defense in a blink of the eye as he sets up or counters every move of his opposition.

His opponent is the 17-0 Raeese Aleem, a fundamentally sound fighter who showed out in the co-feature on Showtime last August. Both these guys (all 4 fighters actually) are excellent body punchers, Aleem can attack with both hands including his accurate jab to the stomach. Vic is lighting fast but it’s not like Aleem is slow-handed as he throws long right hands and compact lefts hooks. Aleem is the type that does everything well but will see how his defense holds up to the activity level of a Pasillas. Can Aleem take advantage of his 68 ½ inch-reach compared to Vic’s 65? Which brings us to what will go down when these fine pugilist lock horns come Saturday night?

Timing and hand speed and possibly foot speed lean towards Vic but look for the first few minutes to be feel out per usual. Expect Aleem to have success with his jab in the early frames but how long will it take for Vic to time it? The old saying of ‘defense wins championships’ holds true more times than not in boxing. Although this fight should feature competiveness within the round, this boxing head believes the versatility of Pasillas will rule the day. His in and out rhythm using angles and pivots along with timing and power will overload Aleem. Unless Raeese can peel off another layer we’ve yet to see the overall skill level matched with explosiveness of Vic Pasillas will stand out.

My Official Predictions is Vic Pasillas by late TKO.       

Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Com

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